Proposed Increase to Nonprofit Security Grant Program Comes in Wake of Attack on Texas Synagogue

The Orthodox Union’s Nathan Diament with Sen. Chuck Schumer at press conference in New York City Jan. 26 calling for funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program to be increased to $360 million so more synagogues, other houses of worship and other nonprofits can fortify their buildings against terror attacks: Photo credit: Orthodox Union

On January 26, The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, applauded Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s announcement proposing to double funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) to $360 million to better protect synagogues, other houses of worship and other nonprofits at risk of terror attacks.

The event comes just days after a rabbi and worshippers were taken hostage by a gunman during Sabbath services at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.

Orthodox Union Executive Director for Public Policy Nathan Diament spoke alongside Sen. Schumer and other faith leaders at the press conference in midtown Manhattan, calling for the increase to the Nonprofit Security Grant Program.

“We did not imagine living through a nightmare in the United States of not one, not two, but three synagogues being the sites of domestic terrorist attacks, and that’s what we’ve now lived through. In my 25 years of working in advocacy for the synagogue community, I didn’t imagine that I would turn on my phone after Shabbat and the first call I would get would be from the Secretary of Homeland Security telling me about another synagogue terrorist incident,” Diament stated.

“We will not stand idle as our community is preyed upon yet again. We at the Orthodox Union are working to do all that we can to keep the Jewish community and other faith communities safe at all times, and especially in their houses of worship,” Orthodox Union President Mark (Moishe) Bane said.

In addition, the Orthodox Union and other major American faith groups sent a letter to President Biden calling upon him to double NSGP funding for synagogues and other houses of worship.

The Nonprofit Security Grant Program, administered by the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, provides grants of up to $150,000 apiece to synagogues and other houses of worship as well as parochial day schools and other nonprofits at risk of terror attacks. 

The funds may be used for security improvements to buildings and to hire security guards. The NSGP is currently funded at $180 million. This press conference marks the second time in two years that Sen. Schumer, Nathan Diament and other faith leaders have called for increasing Congress’s allocation for the NSGP to $360. Since 2005, when the OU Advocacy Center spearheaded the creation of the NSGP, the program has provided $599 million in grants to houses of worship and other nonprofits nationwide. In 2021, more than half of those who applied for the NSGP were turned away due to lack of funding.